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OliverTwister, and WWII resistance

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Devrim
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Jun 19 2006 13:09
OliverTwister, and WWII resistance
OliverTwister wrote:
Quote:
Olivertwister wrote:

Dev the IWA actually passed a resolution in an emergency congress during the SCW ordering the CNT out of the government and to continue the revolution.

Yes, I knew that, but what was the IWA's position on the second world war?

Olivertwister wrote:

Some CNT members did join the free french army. Others joined the 'maquis' which in some cases were more like armed strike committees than resistance units - and actually fought the free french army after the 'liberation'

This 'armed strike committee' formulation sounds extremely dodgy to me.

Wiki wrote:

Politically, maquis were very diverse - from right-wing nationalists to communists. Some Maquis bands that operated in southwest France were composed entirely by left-wing Spanish veterans of the Spanish Civil War.

I think their role was one of support for the allied war effort.

I think this is a great example of left-communist absolutism. Why was lenins call to "turn the imperialist war into a civil war" revolutionary, yet all armed action during ww2 was counter-revolutionary? The idea that the workers could only fight by striking is stupid. In the case of (some of) the maquis they were living in concentration camps in southwest france because the only country which would offer them refuge was the USSR, and they knew from their experience in Spain that that was certain death. Given that they were grouped together with a large number of other revolutionaries and politically educated proletarians who all had fighting experience, what should they have done but take up arms? Workers in concentration camps who strike but don't defend themselves are idiots - and the best way to defend themselves was to form mobile armed bands linked up with others.

If they were part of the allied war effort why did the allies have to disarm them at the point of a gun, and/or put them in the "liberation" stalinist concentration camps? Were the fighters in Warsaw part of the allied war effort, and if so why did the USSR sit there and watch them get crushed? If the Milan + Turin strikes had had the capability to shoot down the american bombers would they have been part of the fascist war effort? And if they had resisted the Nazis would they have then become part of the allied war effort?

For that matter, were the strikers at Renault fighting for Russian Imperialism? Were the strikers in Vorkuta or Hungary foot soldiers for NATO?

I don't know the IWA's position of WW2. I imagine they thought it sucked (and wherever they still had influence probably encouraged workers to fight for their class rather than nation - however i think all of their sections may have been in fascist occupied territory, so I don't know the extent to which they were even able to have a 'position'). You are right to say that a lot of CNT militants joined the free french army, thus the tanks marked 'Durruti' which rolled into Paris. However I think this was much more the actions of isolated militants or groups of militants who were out of options and had their backs up against the wall. I believe (but do not remember where i got this from so i cannot source it) that many were only allowed into France by joining the French army, and obviously they could not stay in France after the fascist takeover. That would have meant instant deportation and death in spain. Tragic, that they wound up where they did, but not incomprehensible.

This came from The SWP thread, but I thought that I would start a new topic. Actually, I was saving it for when the forums came back on line.

OliverTwister wrote:
I think this is a great example of left-communist absolutism.

Well, I think this is a great example of anarchist forgetting about revolutionary politics as soon as they see a few leftists carrying guns, and waving red (and black in this case) flags.

Martinh wrote later on the thread that:

Martinh wrote:
In real life situations people rarely get the choices they would like. While their situation had changed, it hadn't improved that much - they were in exile, on sufferance, and the country they were exiled in had just acquired a fascist government and partial German occupation. The fear of deportation to Franco's firing squads was immediate - the fact that the Free French were another capitalist gang doesn't detract from that being preferable to a fascist firing squad.

and I replied:

Devrim wrote:
Yes, in real life people are sometimes forced to do things that are against their political beliefs. I am sure that lots of revolutionaries have been forced into capitalist armies, and forced to kill other workers on the other side rather than be killed themselves. There is a difference between this participation in the capitalist war machine as an individual, and tanks with CNT written on the side driving into 'liberated' Paris. I think to a certain extent it shows that the CNT as an organisation had accepted the anti-fascist ideology, and lined up with the allied war machine. However, I don't know if it was the organisation, or the actions of a few members.

I understand how individuals get pulled into these sort of actions. There is a big difference between this though, and political support for the second world war.

Oliver talks about the Maquise in South West France as if it was an independent working class organization fighting for the interest of the working class against both allied, and Axis imperialism. This was far from the case. The French resistance actively participated in the war on the side of allied imperialism.

Oliver draws parallels with the Warsaw uprising:

OliverTwister wrote:
Were the fighters in Warsaw part of the allied war effort, and if so why did the USSR sit there and watch them get crushed?

Yes, Oliver they were.

Wiki wrote:
On 25 July the Free Polish Cabinet in London approved the planned uprising in Warsaw. Fearing German reprisals following the ignored order to support fortification construction, and believing that time was of the essence, General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski ordered full mobilisation of Home Army forces in the Warsaw area on 1 August 1944.

It was organized by the Polish Home Army, which was certainly part of the allied war effort. As for why the USSR sat there, and let them get crushed Wiki continues:

Wiki wrote:
This mobilization decision had some key ramifications with the Soviet Union. Stalin decried for not being officially consulted on the uprising and thus suspected subterfuge from his Western allies. In retrospect, both sides were jockeying for regional political alignment, with the Polish Home Army's desire for a pro-Western Polish government and the Soviet's intention of establishing a Polish Communist regime.

Even at this stage there was tension between the different factions in the 'allied' camp, the same tensions that were eventually to erupt into the Cold War.

Oliver asks:

Quote:
Why was lenins call to "turn the imperialist war into a civil war" revolutionary, yet all armed action during ww2 was counter-revolutionary?

The situations were completely different, Oliver. Although the left communists wanted the same thing during WWII, it was not on the agenda. The working class had been politically defeated during the revolutionary wave after WWI, and that is why it was so easy for the rival imperialist powers to drag Europe back into war again.

There is a huge difference between on the one side the Russian revolution, the Wilshaven revolt, and the strikes and mutinies across all of Europe, and on the other the nationalist pro-allied resistance movements in the second world war. It is a class difference.

Yes, there were mass workers' strikes in Italy. These were on a completely different terrain that the resistance movement though. They were on the terrain of the working class, not that of the union sacrée.

It was one of the things that caused the newly born International Communist Party to write:

PCI wrote:
What distinguishes our Party is...the rejection of the Popular Fronts and the Resistance blocs...

As opposed to most of the anarchists who fell completely into line with the nationalist Stalinist resistance, for example:

Libcom wrote:
In Livorno, anarchists were among the first to seize the arms stored in the barracks and in the Antignano Naval Academy - arms used later against the Germans and the fascists. Organized inside the GAP (Patriotic Action Groups), they took part in guerrilla operations in the area surrounding Pisa and Livorno and were represented in the city’s CLN.

OliverTwister wrote:
For that matter, were the strikers at Renault fighting for Russian Imperialism? Were the strikers in Vorkuta or Hungary foot soldiers for NATO?

I presume that you are trying to be rhetorical here, but these are completely different events. They are on a working class terrain whereas the actions of the patriotic resistance movements in WWII were not.

Devrim

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OliverTwister
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Jun 19 2006 14:31
Devrim wrote:
OliverTwister wrote:
Quote:
Olivertwister wrote:

Dev the IWA actually passed a resolution in an emergency congress during the SCW ordering the CNT out of the government and to continue the revolution.

Yes, I knew that, but what was the IWA's position on the second world war?

Olivertwister wrote:

Some CNT members did join the free french army. Others joined the 'maquis' which in some cases were more like armed strike committees than resistance units - and actually fought the free french army after the 'liberation'

This 'armed strike committee' formulation sounds extremely dodgy to me.

Wiki wrote:

Politically, maquis were very diverse - from right-wing nationalists to communists. Some Maquis bands that operated in southwest France were composed entirely by left-wing Spanish veterans of the Spanish Civil War.

I think their role was one of support for the allied war effort.

I think this is a great example of left-communist absolutism. Why was lenins call to "turn the imperialist war into a civil war" revolutionary, yet all armed action during ww2 was counter-revolutionary? The idea that the workers could only fight by striking is stupid. In the case of (some of) the maquis they were living in concentration camps in southwest france because the only country which would offer them refuge was the USSR, and they knew from their experience in Spain that that was certain death. Given that they were grouped together with a large number of other revolutionaries and politically educated proletarians who all had fighting experience, what should they have done but take up arms? Workers in concentration camps who strike but don't defend themselves are idiots - and the best way to defend themselves was to form mobile armed bands linked up with others.

If they were part of the allied war effort why did the allies have to disarm them at the point of a gun, and/or put them in the "liberation" stalinist concentration camps? Were the fighters in Warsaw part of the allied war effort, and if so why did the USSR sit there and watch them get crushed? If the Milan + Turin strikes had had the capability to shoot down the american bombers would they have been part of the fascist war effort? And if they had resisted the Nazis would they have then become part of the allied war effort?

For that matter, were the strikers at Renault fighting for Russian Imperialism? Were the strikers in Vorkuta or Hungary foot soldiers for NATO?

I don't know the IWA's position of WW2. I imagine they thought it sucked (and wherever they still had influence probably encouraged workers to fight for their class rather than nation - however i think all of their sections may have been in fascist occupied territory, so I don't know the extent to which they were even able to have a 'position'). You are right to say that a lot of CNT militants joined the free french army, thus the tanks marked 'Durruti' which rolled into Paris. However I think this was much more the actions of isolated militants or groups of militants who were out of options and had their backs up against the wall. I believe (but do not remember where i got this from so i cannot source it) that many were only allowed into France by joining the French army, and obviously they could not stay in France after the fascist takeover. That would have meant instant deportation and death in spain. Tragic, that they wound up where they did, but not incomprehensible.

This came from The SWP thread, but I thought that I would start a new topic. Actually, I was saving it for when the forums came back on line.

OliverTwister wrote:
I think this is a great example of left-communist absolutism.

Well, I think this is a great example of anarchist forgetting about revolutionary politics as soon as they see a few leftists carrying guns, and waving red (and black in this case) flags.

wikipedia wrote:
When Germans began a forced labor draft in France in the beginning of 1943, thousands of young men fled and joined the Maquis. The British Special Operations Executive (SOE) helped with supplies and agents. The American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) also began to send its own agents to France in cooperation with the SOE.

Clearly there was a very strong problem of allied involvement in the Maqui movement. I would hope that the anarchist units had learnt their lesson from the SCW about accepting the aid of capitalists, but that isn't the main point. Many of the maquis in southwest france were held in concentration camps for spanish refugeees - when the forced labor draft began, the only option was to escape and take up arms. what should they have done?

When i said "left-communist absolutism" i meant the tendency to take things that are generallly true and make them universal. Thus "unions" and "antifascism" are always against the proletariat. There is no room to look at an actual situation and make an independent judgement because we already have thee answer.

Quote:
Martinh wrote later on the thread that:
Martinh wrote:
In real life situations people rarely get the choices they would like. While their situation had changed, it hadn't improved that much - they were in exile, on sufferance, and the country they were exiled in had just acquired a fascist government and partial German occupation. The fear of deportation to Franco's firing squads was immediate - the fact that the Free French were another capitalist gang doesn't detract from that being preferable to a fascist firing squad.

and I replied:

Devrim wrote:
Yes, in real life people are sometimes forced to do things that are against their political beliefs. I am sure that lots of revolutionaries have been forced into capitalist armies, and forced to kill other workers on the other side rather than be killed themselves. There is a difference between this participation in the capitalist war machine as an individual, and tanks with CNT written on the side driving into 'liberated' Paris. I think to a certain extent it shows that the CNT as an organisation had accepted the anti-fascist ideology, and lined up with the allied war machine. However, I don't know if it was the organisation, or the actions of a few members.

I understand how individuals get pulled into these sort of actions. There is a big difference between this though, and political support for the second world war.

Oliver talks about the Maquise in South West France as if it was an independent working class organization fighting for the interest of the working class against both allied, and Axis imperialism. This was far from the case. The French resistance actively participated in the war on the side of allied imperialism.

Yes, but the official resistance did not encompass the entirety of all armed action against the nazis. You are committing a fallacy of composition by inferring from groups which were clearly fighting for allied imperialism to the groups which they often fought against who stood for working class revolution rather than national liberation.

Quote:
Oliver draws parallels with the Warsaw uprising:
OliverTwister wrote:
Were the fighters in Warsaw part of the allied war effort, and if so why did the USSR sit there and watch them get crushed?

Yes, Oliver they were.

Wiki wrote:
On 25 July the Free Polish Cabinet in London approved the planned uprising in Warsaw. Fearing German reprisals following the ignored order to support fortification construction, and believing that time was of the essence, General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski ordered full mobilisation of Home Army forces in the Warsaw area on 1 August 1944.

It was organized by the Polish Home Army, which was certainly part of the allied war effort. As for why the USSR sat there, and let them get crushed Wiki continues:

Wiki wrote:
This mobilization decision had some key ramifications with the Soviet Union. Stalin decried for not being officially consulted on the uprising and thus suspected subterfuge from his Western allies. In retrospect, both sides were jockeying for regional political alignment, with the Polish Home Army's desire for a pro-Western Polish government and the Soviet's intention of establishing a Polish Communist regime.

Even at this stage there was tension between the different factions in the 'allied' camp, the same tensions that were eventually to erupt into the Cold War.

Oliver asks:

Quote:
Why was lenins call to "turn the imperialist war into a civil war" revolutionary, yet all armed action during ww2 was counter-revolutionary?

The situations were completely different, Oliver. Although the left communists wanted the same thing during WWII, it was not on the agenda. The working class had been politically defeated during the revolutionary wave after WWI, and that is why it was so easy for the rival imperialist powers to drag Europe back into war again.

Fair enough about Warsaw. My point about Lenin stands - that is an extremely ambiguous quote, and the fact that Lenin accepted German aid would clearly put him into the central powers' war effort by calling to turn the "imperialist war into a civil war", if we use these standards.

Quote:
There is a huge difference between on the one side the Russian revolution, the Wilshaven revolt, and the strikes and mutinies across all of Europe, and on the other the nationalist pro-allied resistance movements in the second world war. It is a class difference.

Yes, there were mass workers' strikes in Italy. These were on a completely different terrain that the resistance movement though. They were on the terrain of the working class, not that of the union sacrée.

It was one of the things that caused the newly born International Communist Party to write:

PCI wrote:
What distinguishes our Party is...the rejection of the Popular Fronts and the Resistance blocs...

As opposed to most of the anarchists who fell completely into line with the nationalist Stalinist resistance, for example:

Libcom wrote:
In Livorno, anarchists were among the first to seize the arms stored in the barracks and in the Antignano Naval Academy - arms used later against the Germans and the fascists. Organized inside the GAP (Patriotic Action Groups), they took part in guerrilla operations in the area surrounding Pisa and Livorno and were represented in the city’s CLN.

What do you think about the trotskyists in vietnam, who fought against the japanese and then argued for armed workers resistance to the return of the french and other imperialists? (at this point they were slaughtered by the stalinists). Were they seecretly fighting for the allied war effort, or do they show that sometimes left communist dogmas don't quite provide the rubric for reality that they claim to?

OliverTwister wrote:
For that matter, were the strikers at Renault fighting for Russian Imperialism? Were the strikers in Vorkuta or Hungary foot soldiers for NATO?

I presume that you are trying to be rhetorical here, but these are completely different events. They are on a working class terrain whereas the actions of the patriotic resistance movements in WWII were not.

Devrim

Clearly that's true. However, I've never argued that the 'patriotic resistance' movements had anything to offer the working class, but that there were or may have been 'non-patriotic resistances' which didn't. The question is, if some action contains potential benefit for some fraction of the bourgeoisie, does that completely invalidate it as having benefit for the working class? If so, then any strike which contains demands for trade union recogition will have to be labled as counter-revolutionary, if consistency is important.

Oliver

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Alf
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Jun 19 2006 17:22

Oliver, I think it's clear from Devrim's quotes that the anarchists who got drawn into the anti-fascist fronts had learned nothing at all from the experience of the Spanish war. You seem to be relying on the old argument of 'what else could they have done?'. Devrim has already said that of course there are situations where class struggle is impossible and it's a question of individual survival, but that equally applied to German workers who were being bombed to smithereens by the Allies. In the Ukraine many workers and peasants were driven to fight for the fascists to 'save themselves' from the Stalinist army. 'What would you have done' then?

In Italy in 1943, however, there was a real working class movement, and there were real revolutionary organisations being formed. There was, at least for a while, a real alternative. This movement was going in a completely different direction from the partisans, who were entirely tied up with the Allied war effort. Those anarchists who thought that the partisans were somehow a force for proletarian revolution served one purpose that of drawing workers away from the class struggle and back into the imperialist war. 'Absolutist' perhaps, but we are talking about 'absolutely' opposed dynamics war and revolution.

The argument that a strike for workers' material interests should 'consistently' be called counter-revolutionary because it contains some false or even bourgeois demands misses the point. There's every difference between a movement that begins on a class terrain, however confused its protagonists, and one which is from the start located on the bourgeois terrain of imperialist war.

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OliverTwister
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Jun 19 2006 17:33

I'll come back to this, but I'd like to say that if GULAG prisoners in Siberia had escaped and formed a guerilla army which posed for the proletarian overthrow of the USSR as well as fighting against the Nazis it would have been a positive development. It also would have been qualitatively extremely different from the Ukrainian nationalist bands which supported the Nazis.

Alf what do you think of my example of the Vietnamesee trotskyists?

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Alf
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Jun 20 2006 23:06

I think I did a reply to this that got lost in today's general collapse. From memory

I am not well acquainted with the Vietnamese events, but they do seem to have involved real episodes of class struggle, mixed up with nationalist confusions. This happened in a number of countries at the end of the war. This is what led the Italian left to think that their prognosis of the war giving rise to a new revolutionary wave was being confirmed. But this time around the working class was far weaker than in 1917 and the bourgeoisie was far better prepared. Churchill in particular, with his heinous 'let the Italians stew in their own juice' (ie delay the Allied advance from the south of Italy in order to let the Nazis deal with the rebellious workers of the northern cities, which were also bombed by the Allies for good measure). The terror bombing of the German cities had the same counter-revolutionary purpose.

However, I don't see how the existence of such class movements relates to Oliver's speculations about the possibility of autonomous and internationalist partisan units in Europe, or Russia. On a previous thread about World War Two I asked for evidence about the existence of such groups and I am still waiting for a reply. Devrim is quite right to argue that armed groups which are not emanations of a wider class movement are a trap. At best they end up in substitutionism, but in the extremely unfavourable conditions of 1939-45 the partisan groups were inevitably draw towards defending one side in the imperialist conflict. Their references to the working class, even when genuine, thus served to pull workers away from the class struggle and into the military fronts. This certainly happened in Italy, when there really was a proletarian movement for a while.

On the Vietnamese Trotskyists specifically, I am sceptical. There was in China at least one small internationalist group coming from the Trotskyist tradition, but the majority of the Trotskyist groups in this area were deeply mired in nationalism and critical support for Stalinism. That in itself would not have stopped the Stalinists from massacring them. At the same time, if Trotskyist militants did play a positive role in the class movement, this would more likely have been despite their organisations than because of them.

redtwister
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Jun 21 2006 14:01

From what I remember from back in the day, the Vietnamese Trotskyists were one of the largest Trotskyist groups in the world, with several thousand (3,000 somes to mind) members, and they opposed Ho Chi Minh, for which they were completely annihilated.

I do not remember their having any specific complicity with nationalism, although I do remember the line of the group I was in at the time being that while we opposed the murder of communists, supporting the nationalists was not affected in principle by these actions.

Chris